Joseph Carolan – EA, MSPA, CPC, APA is the CEO and Pension Actuary for Evergreen Retirement Plan Consulting, LLC
Joseph started in retirement plans in 2001, when he was 19 years old, after getting his 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Arizona State University. He started working with DC plans (401(k), Profit Sharing, Money Purchase, 403(b), ESOP, etc.) before transitioning to DB plans in 2005 (Cash Balance, DB Pensions and DB/DC combos).
During this time, he received the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA), Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), Member of the Society of Pension Actuaries (MSPA) designations from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) and the Enrolled Actuary (EA) federal license from the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries of the IRS. Keep in mind; some of these tests for the actuarial portion have only a 15% pass rate! That is why there are just 3,500 in the US (about 800 work on small plans). Joseph is the only person in the entire State of Washington in private practice that is both an EA and CPC. He did all of this by the time he was 30.
Although actuarial knowledge is not necessary for plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, ESOPs, etc., because of the study material, he has a better understanding of the rules regarding these plans since many rules about 401(k)s overlap with DB plans. Joseph had to memorize and interpret:
- ERISA (the base of law all retirement plans derive from)
- Internal Revenue Code and Regulations
- DOL code and regulations
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) code and regulations pertaining to retirement plans
Additionally, he had to get acquainted with all legislation that touched on retirement plans within the last nearly 40 years. Most 401(k) only plan administrators have never even read these laws, code and regulations much less can interpret them all.
His experience includes:
- Administering, reviewing and training employees on thousands of plans from the mundane to the extremely complex.
- Serving his own clients with a high level of customer service and technical skill. His clients include many private firms throughout the region.
- Speaking on Defined Benefit and Cash Balance topics at NIPA’s Annual Forum & Expo (NAFE) to a national audience.
- Providing audit assistance, consulting and training for his clients and other TPA practices without an actuary.
- Outsourcing his actuarial services to TPAs that do not have actuaries on staff for the DB and Cash Balance case load throughout the country.
- Reviewing exam module and questions for ASPPA‘s CPC and DB Administrator exams.
- Speaking to other actuaries about technical retirement plan topics through ASPPA’s Benefits Council of the Great Northwest.
- Speaking to and consulting CPAs, Enrolled Agents and financial advisors on plan types for their clients.
He has been applauded by clients and other professionals int he industry for his attention to detail, his ability to jump into take-over cases and quickly grasp the thoughts of the prior actuary or retirement TPA, his knowledge of how to improve plans, and his willingness to work extremely hard for his plans to be perfect in both DB and DC contexts.
Kim started out in marketing while still getting her B.S. in Business from Arizona Christian University. She worked in fundraising and tutoring while finishing her degree. Since then, she graduated in 2004 and worked further in the non-profit world doing board relations, continuing education event planning, public relations and marketing.
She has always loved pensions – the mathematics (she tutored doctoral candidates in statistics while getting her undergraduate degree) and the potential for so many more companies in the Pacific Northwest and beyond to benefit from a skilled TPA.
Being a pension outsider, she saw massive potential for a firm, for design improvements and for work product to look a bit more 21st century. The TPA industry as a whole is marked by unresponsiveness, high priced software, high priced office space (where no one goes to actually meet with their TPA), and very passive sales. Kim saw improvements to make right away with the launch of her firm back in 2011 while she administered both DC and DB plans.
Simple improvements like returning calls and emails within 24-hours, designing readable software, keeping office costs reasonable, auditing payroll reports while administering plans and serving people like all other service industries has made Kim’s efforts in improving operations and presentation worthwhile.